The internet is a powerful thing. It has help unite revolutions around the world, organize protests for change, and make people aware of things they otherwise may have never known about. But at the same time it is a tool that can be used to fuel anger, hatred, and even violence. As I’ve pointed out before, the internet is a dangerous place. Imagery and video out of context can fuel strong feelings that can help support a belief or cause. But as I mentioned previously in regards to the Occupy protests and police brutality, it’s important to take a step back and consider what you are looking at before reacting or coming to a conclusion.
Unfortunately, like in my previous post about how dangerous the internet can be my dad let his feelings get the best of him. He was emailed the image you see in this post of a man defecating on the American flag. In the email it claimed the photo was of an occupy protester. He felt strongly about the image, as many would, and ultimately that brought him to turn around and post the image on Facebook with a similar message.
As a supporter of the Occupy movement and an overall skeptic when it comes to anything I find online that’s politically motivated, I questioned it. I did a quick image search in Google for “man defecating on amercian flag” and quickly found multiple copies of the same image. Many were on blogs trying to spread a similar message to what my dad received in his email, but one in particular stood out because it was in a post from 2007.
The post on Full Metal Patriot tells the story of the image a bit more clearly. Taken in 2007, this image was actually from a peace protest that was held in Portland.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if it’s politically, socially, or morally motivated and it’s shared online DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Dig a little. Check Snopes. Do some searches and see what you find. Check dates. Compare. If it checks out, or you feel confident that it’s legit. Share to your hearts content. At least then if it comes back later that it’s fake or founded on misinformation you’ll have done your part to try and find the truth.
I was killing sometime online tonight (like I always do) and I came across a video a friend shared on Facebook called Whats goin on… The video, which you can see below tells the story of Jonah, a boy who now in the eighth grade has been bullied almost daily since he was in the first grade. He began cutting in second grade, and he now has scars covering much of his upper body.
As I watched the video I was almost brought to tears. As a father of two four year olds that are nearing school age, I worry about the world they are entering. I worry that the words of some bully could be enough to take them from me through suicide or some other terrible act, and the thought of that terrifies me. As I went to share the video on Facebook I wrote how sad the video was and began to say, “WTF is wrong with the world today? Bullying wasn’t like this when I was a kid”. But then I stopped for a moment, and I began writing this blog post.
The Shift in Bullying
Has bullying really gotten worse since I was growing up in the 80′s and 90′s, or has the social medium and media attention simply given those who have been bullied a louder voice, which leads us to believe it’s worse? As I write this I remember a time when I was in junior high when I found myself curled up in a ball bawling in the middle of the street because a group of people I grew up with and called “friends” had bullied me to a breaking point. To a point where I was so upset that all I could do was break down. I don’t remember what was said, or what happened leading up to that, but I remember the breaking point. I am 31, and I can still remember that point vividly. It’s not the words, or the actions that stick with you, it’s the pain.
So I ask again. Has it really gotten worse?
The Societal Crossroads
I then started to thing about other factors. Are kids these days more sensitive? Are kids these days meaner? If for some reason it has gotten worse, what’s made it worse? I started to look at the big picture and one thing in particular stood out.
Our society is at a crossroads right now. There is a movement fighting for equal rights for homosexuals and with it more and more of society is letting people young and old know that it’s ok to be gay. Yet on the other hand there is a large sect of Americans that are against this. They believe marriage is a religious right and not a human right. They believe that homosexuality is a sin, an abomination. Sometimes these beliefs are so hard coded into their being that they fuel hate and anger. Could this crossroads be the cause of an increase in bullying, if it is in fact worse?
In Jonah’s video he holds up cards that say, “A lot of people hate me…I don’t know why…But I guess I do. Cuz I kinda hate me too…Gay. Fag. Dick. Douche. Homo. Asshole…” Jonah doesn’t state whether or not he is homosexual, but you’ll notice that three of the six insults listed on the card are slang for homosexuals. Could the epidemic of hatred against homosexuals be fueling even more bullying? Could many of our youth be getting targeted as homosexuals even if they aren’t, and in turn the bullying is in fact worse and therefore more widespread? It’s possible.
Whats Goin On…
What is going on? Jonah asks a great question, and right now it’s hard to tell. Are things getting worse for our youth or has technology simply given them a place to be heard? I like the think it’s the latter. At least then I have hope that there is in fact some hope for these kids. Maybe all they need is to be heard. Maybe all they need is a community to tell them it gets better. Jonah has received an outcry of support in his YouTube comments, but is that enough? I can’t help but think that if he was being bullied to the degree he made it sound that this ability to share his feelings, cry on camera, and try and show his strength would only set him up for more ridicule and bullying. Does technology empower him, or endanger him? I really don’t know.
What I do know is that whether it’s worse, or the same as when I was growing up, or even when my parents were growing up we have to teach our children to rise above it. As parents we must be supportive and instill confidence in our children at a much younger age. We must not be judgmental and now more than ever you need an honestly policy with your kids that instills a relationship of trust so that if they get to a breaking point they know they can come to you if needed. Because if they can’t reach out to you, they may be reaching out to the knife, the razor blade, or worse a gun.
In 1986 ABC aired Jim Henson’s made-for-tv movie “The Christmas Toy”. Nine years later, Disney/Pixar kicked off the Toy Story trilogy, which I discovered tonight has strikingly similar elements to the 1986 Christmas special.
My family and I settled in tonight to watch a Christmas themed movie since we opted not to attend a local holiday event as planned. After skimming the featured holiday favorites on Netflix my kids settled on Jim Henson’s “The Christmas Toy”, after all, who can resist a movie cover with Muppets on it.
As the movie kicked off it seemed familiar, which means I probably saw the Christmas special when it first aired in ’86, but as the story progressed there were a number of other elements that felt familiar. Familiar, because they carried similar plot elements to the beloved Toy Story franchise.
The story revolves around a stuffed tiger named Rugby. Rugby is an arrogant toy that thinks that the Christmas holiday is all about him since Christmas is when he was unwrapped and he became the favorite toy of the little girl that owns him. Striking resemblance to Toy Story protagonist Woody, no?
Because he doesn’t understand Christmas he thinks he needs to get downstairs and get back inside a Christmas gift to be unwrapped again. As he escapes the room to head downstairs, a much older beat up bear with a cane draws the attention of all the toys to explain to them what Christmas is and how they’ll need to welcome to the new toys who won’t be used to their world. Hmm, an overly friendly beat up bear with a cane who heads up a welcoming comity for new toys…Didn’t Lotso play that part in Toy Story 3?
Anyways, there are some crazy misadventures in between and eventually a handful of the other toys venture out of the room to try and save Rugby along with a cat toy named mew. When they get downstairs Rugby is in the process of trying to get inside a box to put himself in when he discovers Meteora, Queen of the Asteroids, this year’s Christmas toy.
Meteora busts out of he box quickly thinking that she is on a bizarre planet and begins making her way around the living room trying to locate her arch nemesis, which from her statements sounds to be some sort of robot. At first Meteora has no idea she is a toy and feels that the box she was in was nothing more than a prison. It take some coaxing, but finally the other toys are able to convince her she is a toy and get her back in the box. Wait, a space toy that doesn’t believe they are just a toy? Where did we see that? Oh yeah, Buzz Lightyear!
As you can see, at the core Toy Story shares a lot of similar elements to the 1986 Christmas special. Some additional elements include.
A ditzy doll that shares a striking similarity to Barbie in the Toy Story films
A scene in which the doll is dressed like Little Bo Peep (I never understood the Bo Peep character in Toy Story, so maybe this explains it)
I’m not saying that Toy Story ripped off The Christmas Toy, but there are definitely some striking resemblances. If you have about 45 minutes jump on Netflix and stream it and let me know what you think. My memory of the Toy Story films isn’t that fresh, so there may be other elements I simply didn’t pick up on that both movies share.